Refocused OU women take momentum into postseason
BY GUERIN EMIG World Sports Writer
Saturday, March 09, 2013
3/09/13 at 5:24 AM
NORMAN - The most important stretch of Oklahoma's season included no games. The Sooner women didn't need any more of those at the time. They were coming off back-to-back 20-point losses Feb. 23 and 25 and stood 9-7 in the Big 12 Conference.
"We took a couple days off," forward Joanna McFarland said. "When we got back in the gym it was work. It was getting the edge back. It was physical. It was rough. But it made us fight together and for each other, and that's what we got back to."
If that didn't reinforce the idea, a film session-turned-therapy session March 1 did.
"It was about the seniors leaving a legacy, and going to the tournament 14 years in a row," Morgan Hook said. "We were at risk of maybe not even making the NCAA Tournament. That hit us hard. We don't have it in the bag every year just because we're Oklahoma."
A refocused OU team defeated Kansas 85-77 the next day. The Sooners followed that with a 77-73 victory at Texas Tech two nights later.
Suddenly, the team with postseason anxiety was the No. 3 seed in the Big 12 Tournament. The 21-9 Sooners needn't worry about their NCAA prospects any longer. They enter Saturday's 8:30 p.m. Big 12 quarterfinal against sixth-seeded West Virginia simply trying to polish their NCAA resume.
"I think we can greatly impact the value of our seed," OU coach Sherri Coale said of this weekend at Dallas' American Airlines Center. "But is that for us to worry about or think about? Absolutely not. Whatever happens happens.
"We're in a great position right now. We need to focus on the task at hand."
That's just what the Sooners did in finishing their regular season with two crucial wins in 48 hours.
"We had that meeting the day before Kansas and said, 'These are the four days that will make or break our season,'" Hook said. "We decided this is we've got to do, and this is how we've got to do it."
OU shot 52 percent to subdue the Jayhawks. With third place up for grabs at Texas Tech, the Sooners upped their accuracy to 56 percent. They were the better team down the stretch, and the deserved winner.
"There were a lot of heroes in the last four minutes," Coale said. "Tech made big plays and we had to score. And every time we had to score, we scored."
Coale mentioned Hook, McFarland and Aaryn Ellenberg specifically, but she could have issued plaudits for Nicole Griffin and Sharane Campbell as well. OU's other two starters combined for 17 points, 11 rebounds, six blocked shots and five assists.
It was just the type of effort the Sooners talked about in their meeting three days earlier. It sets up what they hope is a memorable postseason.
"Everybody is stepping up and doing things for the team," McFarland said. "Everybody's being a threat offensively. Everybody's taking care of their business, their assignment defensively. Right now we're playing for each other, and it's really great."
Original Print Headline: Refocused OU has momentum
Guerin Emig 918-581-8355